New officers to help jumpstart BuCor reforms

The Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) expects to have 3,000 new officers next year, marking the start of a ‘reformed’ agency. BuCor hired 1,000 corrections officers last year and is hiring another 1,000 this year. The Department of Budget and Management also approved the hiring of 1,000 more next year, Director General Gregorio Catapang Jr. said in a recent House of Representatives Committee on Public Order and Safety hearing on the state of BuCor. ‘We will therefore have a total of 3,000 new correction officers by end of 2024 who will represent the beginning of a reformed BuCor. They will constitute the new blood of BuCor who will regain the trust and confidence of the Filipino people,’ Catapang said. ‘We will inculcate on them integrity, dedication to service and the courage to refuse corruption.’ BuCor is continuously retooling and organizing seminars and training to promote values formation among its personnel. ‘We need to do this because some of our personnel have been in the Bureau for so long at dahil ‘yung mga ninuno nila ay nagtrabaho din sa Bureau, they felt entitled kaya talagang mahaba-habang proseso para sila madisiplina (they felt entitled as their forefathers have worked with the bureau before so it will be a long process to discipline them),’ Catapang said. He admitted BuCor was unprepared when it was restructured from civilian to uniformed following the Bureau of Corrections Act of 2013 that provides for modernization, professionalization and restructuring. The State shall provide for the modernization, professionalization, and restructuring of the Bureau of Corrections by upgrading its facilities, increasing the number of its personnel, upgrading the level of qualifications of such personnel, and standardizing their base pay, retirement and other benefits to make the same at par with those of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, according to the implementing rules and regulation of Republic Act 10575, signed on May 24, 2013 by the late President Benigno C. Aquino III. “They were converted into uniformed personnel without training, to wear the uniform. When you say wear the uniform, they should be disciplined, they should follow orders and they should not commit corruption,’ Catapang explained. Citing his experience as a former chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, he said he could outrightly dismiss from the service a soldier who committed an infringement. However, he said it cannot be done in the BuCor. ‘There are processes that you have to follow like the Civil Service Commission rules and regulations and the Department of Justice. You cannot just terminate them immediately even if they committed corruption,’ Catapang said. As for the problems of congestion, he said more persons deprived of liberty (PDL) at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City will be transferred once the construction of facilities in Iwahig, Davao and Leyte Prison and Penal Farms is completed. BuCor also plans to build heinous crime facilities at the Sablayan Prison and Penal Farm in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija province; Camp Peralta Jamindan in Capiz province; and Camp Kibaritan in Bukidnon. Recently, BuCor has been releasing PDL due to parole, expiration of their maximum sentence under the Good Conduct and Time Allowance, acquittal, probation and filing of cash bonds.

Source: Philippines News Agency